When you see those double lines on a pregnancy test, all—and we mean all—of the thoughts go through your mind. Ahhh! Omg! Who will pick up the phone right now? Wait, should I call my doctor? What if this thing is wrong? I can't believe it, I'm going to be a MOM. We're going to be parents. How should I tell my hubby? Hold up, I had a glass of wine last night. Is that okay? Should I start eating for two?
If you’re like many women, a positive pregnancy test brings with it a surge of euphoria followed quickly by sheer panic at just how underprepared you are for this new chapter. But by checking a few simple to-dos off your list, you can set yourself up for a stress-free, enjoyable pregnancy.
Let us help you enjoy this exciting stage of life with our helpful checklist of things to do once you’ve found out you’re pregnant. Read on for your guide.
1. Schedule your first prenatal appointment.
Once you’ve gotten a positive result on an at-home pregnancy test, you’ll want to call your doctor to set up your first prenatal appointment.
Don’t be surprised if your provider doesn’t want to see you until the six week mark or even later.
“Patients are typically seen anytime between six and nine weeks of pregnancy for their first ultrasound,” says Perelel Medical Co-Founder and board-certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist Dr. Banafsheh Bayati. “It is best to be seen earlier if there is a history of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, miscarriages, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) conception, irregular cycles, or you are over 35.”
Dr. Bayati explains that by five weeks of conception, the gestational sac as well as the yolk sac can be seen by transvaginal ultrasound, and the “fetal pole,” which is used to describe the developing embryo can be seen by six weeks of pregnancy with a developing heart rate. If ovulation is later than anticipated, an early six week ultrasound could create increased anxiety and concern for a possible miscarriage. Thus, some providers prefer to wait until the seven or eight week mark to perform a transvaginal ultrasound.
This first appointment tends to be a longer one, since it typically includes a discussion about your medical, surgical and obstetrical history, a physical examination and urine test or ultrasound if needed, plus a meeting with an obstetrics nurse to review important prenatal information and map out next steps.
The date of your last period.
This will help your provider determine your due date.
Your medical history.
Your personal and family history of genetic disorders and, if you’ve had previous pregnancies, any genetic screenings you’ve already had done.
A prepared list of questions.
Any questions or concerns you have about pregnancy or childbirth.
2. Begin taking prenatal vitamins.
During pregnancy, your baby gets all the nutrients she needs from you—which means you need to make sure you’re getting enough for you and your little one. Nutrients like folate and iron are of particular importance.1 Here’s why:
Taking prenatal vitamins can help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet and ensure you and your baby are getting enough of the nutrients you need to thrive.
Perelel’s First Trimester Prenatal Packs support your baby’s crucial early development with additional folate, added omegas and a full-spectrum prenatal vitamin, while easing nausea with added B6 and ginger. Perelel is unique in that they use your due date to pair you with the right prenatal vitamin pack for your needs. Then, as you move through your pregnancy, they’ll automatically update your pack to match where you are in your journey.
3. Get ahead of morning sickness.
We don’t want to be the bearers of bad news, but experts estimate that at least seven in 10 pregnant women experience morning sickness in the first trimester2. For most women, morning sickness typically starts at the six-week mark and often peaks in severity around nine weeks.3
According to Dr. Bayati, there are a few strategies that may help combat nausea and vomiting. “In general, a higher dose of B6 along with appropriate ginger intake and adequate folate and vitamin B12 may help with morning sickness,” she says.
If you're having a particularly hard time getting in your nutrients, try switching to a vitamin powder that you can drink instead of swallowing pills. Our 1st Trimester Prenatal Vitamin Powder ($53) was created by a panel of leading OB/GYNs and maternal-fetal medicine doctors to cover your baseline nutritional needs when experiencing morning sickness, nausea or pill aversion.*
This on-the-go prenatal vitamin drink mix contains 20 key vitamins and minerals for mom and baby, antioxidant support, added folate to support early stage pregnancy and normal neural development, plus electrolytes and added B6 + ginger to combat nausea.*
Dr. Bayati also says lifestyle practices like increased rest, hydration and healthy stress management can help as well. Eating small meals throughout the day so that your stomach is never empty may also be an effective strategy—many women find hunger to be a trigger. Try eating some crackers or a piece of dry toast first thing in the morning, then eat five or six small meals throughout the day. Bland foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and tea may be safe options for those triggered by stronger flavors. Ginger ale, tea or pregnancy-specific candies may help relieve morning sickness, as may acupuncture and electrical nerve stimulation wristbands, which involve putting pressure on or stimulating pressure points to help prevent nausea. These should all be cleared by your provider prior to trying.
Asking your provider for additional strategies for dealing with morning sickness at your very first OB appointment ensures you will be prepared if it strikes.
4. Assess your diet.
Certain foods and drinks are better left off the menu when you’re expecting. Alcohol is a big no-no for pregnant moms, since it passes directly to the baby through the umbilical cord, and can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and multiple physical behavioral and intellectual disabilities, collectively referred to as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDS). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no known safe amount of alcohol for pregnant women and it should be avoided altogether during all three trimesters4.
If you were unaware that you were expecting and had a drink or two, Dr. Bayati assures you not to worry.
"Alcohol intake during pregnancy is not recommended. However, given that women may not find out that they are pregnant for a few weeks following conception, it is likely that many have consumed alcohol in early pregnancy. The risks to the fetus are also very low at this early gestation. It’s best to stop consuming alcohol at any level once you are aware of the pregnancy."
The same, she explains, goes for any toxin, even environmental toxins like Botox or retinol.
"It’s important to note that exposure of any toxin in very early pregnancy would need to be quite significant, either in toxicity or amount of exposure, to affect the developing fetus. Once you are aware of the pregnancy, then discuss your exposures with your provider. Go over the risks and benefits of continued exposure in order to make the best decision for you and your baby."
Other foods to avoid? Here’s what the experts say:
Caffeine, while not completely off limits, should be consumed in moderation since it crosses the placenta and your baby can’t effectively metabolize it in the same way an adult can.
According to Dr. Bayati, “Caffeine use can increase the maternal and fetal heart rates as well as maternal blood pressure. It can also interrupt normal sleep and wake patterns and can even affect breastfeeding.”
Plus, caffeine has been linked to low birth weight in infants and preterm labor. For this reason, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that pregnant women consume less than 200 milligrams per day—that's about the amount found in two cups of regular brewed coffee. And keep in mind that coffee isn't the only source of caffeine in your diet. It can be found in chocolate, tea, soda, some medications, and even in small amounts in decaf coffee.
Wondering what you should eat instead? Here's what a prenatal nutritionist would add to your diet in the 1st trimester.
5. Stock up on stretchy staples.
If you’re expecting your first baby, you likely won’t start growing a bump until you’re well into your second trimester. But changing hormones and water retention can leave your pants feeling snug much sooner than that. Investing in a waistband expander or some extra stretchy bottoms is an easy way to maximize your comfort level until your belly is big enough to fill out maternity clothes.
6. Rest, rest, rest.
Dr. Bayati says it’s extremely common to feel fatigued in the first trimester since your body is working hard on the formation of the placenta and a developing embryo. “It is natural and common to feel the need to take naps or fall asleep very early in the evening. It is normal to take a shower and feel the need to rest from the exhaustion of this simple act,” she says.
Give yourself some grace and listen to your body during this crucial time. If you’re tired, rest. It’s one of the best things you can do for your body and your baby in the trimester. Do not push yourself to do more than you can handle. This will allow the formation of the placenta to be as healthy as possible and give you the best chance to be active and have a healthy third trimester.
7. Prioritize self-care.
Pregnancy is a great time to make life long healthy changes to your routine. Don’t feel guilty putting yourself first during your first trimester and your pregnancy as a whole—prioritizing your health means you’re prioritizing your unborn baby’s.
Here are some of the Dr. Bayati’s best tips for taking care of your body and your baby:
Read next: It's okay to be fearful and excited. A reproductive psychiatrist shares her best tips for moving through the rollercoaster of emotions during pregnancy. Plus, shop doctor-made vitamins for every stage of motherhood now.
1"Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, how to choose - Mayo Clinic." https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-vitamins/art-20046945. Accessed 10 Jan. 2023.
2"Morning Sickness: Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy - ACOG." https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/morning-sickness-nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy. Accessed 10 Jan. 2023.
3"Morning Sickness: Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy - ACOG." https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/morning-sickness-nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy. Accessed 10 Jan. 2023.4"Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy - Mayo Clinic." https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20043844. Accessed 10 Jan. 2023.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.